Robocop and the Reality of Robot Wars

Sometimes you can pick up new ideas in the strangest of places.  For Christmas my brother bought me a magazine called Geek that had a feature about the new Robocop movie that is being made.  He bought it as a present of fun.  Both of us share a love for the extreme violence and brilliant satire of the first Robocop movie.  It is insanely quotable and beneath its sensationalist action picture front is a deeply subversive satire of fascism, the military industrial complex, the news, and many other aspects of modern American life.

I was not expecting much out of the remake as most remakes are dreadful.  It’s still too early to tell how the new remake will fair, but the director of the new picture, Jose Padhila, seemed of rare intelligence for an action movie.  He talked about how the new film will include ideas derived from our modern drone war.

I mentioned, in an earlier post, the new footage that has appeared of Boston Dynamic’s robots.  These are robots that are being built with largely Pentagon funding.  It appears that drones are just the first step in automated warfare.

The director, in the Robocop article, raised a series of interesting questions and ideas.  Since the Vietnam War a large degree of our country’s opposition to war has derived from the bloodshed of our fellow citizens.  Would the protesting of the Vietnam War have reached such heights without kids coming home in body bags?  Although, in a now volunteer army, the bloodshed affects fewer families and other citizens than ever before, a large degree of what opposition there was to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq came out of the blood and treasure that our country is losing in those wars.  The protests that arose from those wars were nowhere near the levels that we saw during Vietnam.

So the director brought up the question that if there is very little or no bloodshed in warfare, on our side, will we allow our government to fight wars for far longer than they need be?  Many people feel that the drone war that Obama is waging is immoral, but there is no large scale revolt to it.  I have my doubts that changing the President would change the nature of the way we are fighting war right now.  Although there is a faction of the Republican Party that is against intervention overseas, most Republican politicians are more hawkish than Democrats.  I think if we are going to change the nature of how and why we fight wars it is going to have to come from the bottom.

What happens if troop deaths are kept to a minimum because their most dangerous tasks have been replaced by robots?  If we can fight wars where only one side really suffers will our fear of war diminish?  With technology stacked on our side in ways not before imagined, will we become even more hawkish in our relations with other countries?  These are only a few of the questions are being raised by this scary technology.  Some of you may laugh at the idea of robots fighting wars, but do you homework and you will see that this is no longer the prospect of science fiction movies.  One does not need to be a genius to look at what we are now doing with drones, view the footage below, and see how we are at the cusp of dangerous new technology.  We better start asking moral and ethical questions now, before it is too late.  Soon enough the terrible dreams of our writers will be the new normal.

Link to Boston Dynamic’s Military Robots:

(I think they could have done without the dramatic music.  The implications of this clip are scary enough without it.)

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